The second annual Santa Barbara Restaurant Week will take place from Feb. 22 through March 3. It will feature dozens of the city’s top restaurants, hotels and wine tasting rooms. With menus priced at $25 and $40, participating restaurants will offer a two-course lunch and three-course dinner prix-fixe menu of select items offered at a reduced price, and wine tasting rooms will offer special tasting experiences.
This year, proceeds from restaurant registration will help support ProStart, a two-year culinary art and hospitality management program developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and run by restaurant associations on a state level. More than 127 public high schools in California use this curriculum, reaching 9,000 students. Santa Barbara Restaurant Week’s donation will specifically go to the California Restaurant Association Foundation’s ProStart program.
A list of participating restaurants, hotels and tasting rooms is on the event website. In support of the week, select Santa Barbara hotels will offer special rates to participating guests. Restaurant owners who would like to get involved can sign up online, with options to participate in or sponsor the event.
For more information, visit www.sbrestaurantweeks.com.
This tropical fruit delivers super sweet notes of banana, pineapple and pear, all rolled into one. Averaging about the size of a softball, and possessing vibrant green bumpy or smooth skin, cherimoya can be perfectly round, heart shaped, or have a unique physique, depending on the variety. When ripe, the fruit will give to the touch much like an avocado. Cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon or add to recipes, especially baked goods. For the Fix of the Week on page A7, I whipped up some Cherimoya Pancakes. Available from a number of local growers at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang, Thursday Carpinteria, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real farmers markets. About $5 per pound.
Thriving this time of year, fresh celery is a must-have ingredient for those of us who prepare soups and stews on a regularly basis through the winter months. Whether making a homemade chicken noodle soup, chowder, or beef and vegetable stew, celery adds a wonderful flavor to the liquid. The lighter stalks toward the center of the bunch tend to be the most tender, so I often reserve those for raw preparations. It’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals, along with dietary fiber, so it’s also ideal for juicing. Fresh celery can be found from a number of local growers at the Tuesday Santa Barbara, Wednesday Solvang, Thursday Carpinteria, Saturday Santa Barbara and Sunday Camino Real markets. Certified organic available. About $2 to $3 per bunch.
From late spring through the end of summer, the Two Peas in a Pod stand is popular for its rotation of about a dozen varieties of fresh berries. Now that the season has come to an end, you can still get the essence of its farm-fresh berries in its large selection of Mama’s Preserves. One of my kids’ favorites is this strawberry-raspberry blend. Smear on a PB&J sandwich or bagel with cream cheese, or even use as a dessert topping. Available at the Tuesday and Saturday Santa Barbara markets. About $10 per 8-ounce jar.